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6th November 2017

The Man Behind The Mansion

“We’re not decreasing our capacity, we’re increasing our audience” – Mancunion Music Editor, Hannah Brierley, talks to the man and woman behind the Mansion

We all know the place, and if you don’t you’re missing out.

I was lucky enough to have a chat with the guy who brought it to life 8 years ago, Andy Mansion, as well as the brain behind the huge success that is ‘Motherfunkers’: Sarah Florence.We talked about how these two are now endeavouring to find more unusual places to bring the Antwerp experience.

Andy first explains that he loves trialling out new ideas for events at Antwerp, he’s worked with people that have an idea but often not enough resources to test it out.

“If it doesn’t do well, then we both lose, but if it does do well, then we both win”.

But the reason that there is such a range of musical genres within the venue is so that there is “something to suit absolutely everyone’s tastes, whatever your style I can pretty much guarantee you will find it somewhere on at Antwerp Mansion.”

However, as the Mansion becomes ever more popular, Andy and Sarah describe that it feels like a right step in the natural progression to start extending to other places and cities in the UK.

“The calendar at the Mansion is so busy, there’s only really only enough space for one night a month for most nights” he explains, and that if they were to do any more than this, people would probably rake it for granted. That’s not what it is about.

“you should always keep setting new challenges for yourself, never get lazy, and expect people to turn up just because you have a name somewhere else.”

Andy and Sarah have recently trialled this out by spreading Motherfunkers’s wings in Old Crown Court in Bristol. Sarah describes that the venue was an old Victorian courthouse, complete with two huge courtrooms as well as real prison cells!

“The DJ’s actually played behind bars!” Laughed Sarah.

However, this is just the first of many, as there are many other cities that they want to hit next, such as Glasgow, Newcastle, and even places like Sheffield. Sarah illustrates that a big part of the reason that people enjoy Motherfunkers is due to the experience they have at Antwerp Mansion, so it is important to stay as “true to that experience as possible, it’s about finding the right level of absurdity and kookiness in these new venues.”

But as we can all imagine, it’s hard to find venues that match such a quota.

“a lot of people I’ve found who own clubs, tend to own more than one and they’re all the same, and that just doesn’t interest me at all.”

Andy then goes on to explain the inspiration behind Antwerp Mansion.

He recalls a venue he went to years ago, that split onto two levels. When you went upstairs there was a huge section that was cut out so you could see the DJ, the people and what was happening below.

He remembers thinking “what is this place?!” It was this exact feeling that he wanted to re-create for Antwerp. “It almost feels like a rabbit hole, or Narnia you go in, there’s always something you find…and Andy is Aslan” Sarah interjects and laughs.

“I wanted to create the kind of place I used to enjoy when I was in my teens” Andy calls to mind when he started delving into the clubbing world, that places were becoming identical, and pristine so much so that they felt like hospitals. “I wanted to create something that was living with you, and partying with you.”

There’s nothing fake about the Mansion either if there’s a bit of plaster that’s not on the wall, it hasn’t been taken off for aesthetic effect. It has probably fallen off due to the bass, and they’ve cleaned it up after.

However, there are a lot of guesses to how safe a place can be that just doesn’t look right. But it is this reason that Andy and his team go above and beyond what is expected of him in terms of health and safety and such things because he knows people will question him for it.

“But it’s exactly how I want it to look, which is ‘just not right’, but it’s real.”

The pair goes into why they think that it has been so well received in Manchester and that the overall conclusion is because Antwerp Mansion, feels ‘naughty’. It feels like you’re doing something wrong, when in fact you know you’re not going to get in trouble for it.

Antwerp, have huge and exciting plans. They’re not decreasing their capacity, they’re growing their audience on a UK wide scale, and who knows where after that. Safe to say they’re doing something right here. I’m excited to see what new strange, eccentric venues we start to see creeping up on us.


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